From cute fluffy monkeys and desert broccoli to Harry Potter snakes and Joker spiders – 2020 saw the discovery of 9 new species.
Global (13 January 2021) – Nature thrived in 2020 as humans stayed home, pollution cleared and animals returned to spaces formerly dominated by us. It was a joy hearing about how the planet healed while we were isolated. At the same time, the world won as 9 new species earned their place in the science journals around the world.
During 2020, scientists and explorers discovered 9 new species from monkeys and snakes to spiders and new plants. These are the 9 new discoveries of 2020. You may be glad you didn’t leave your home in 2020!
Salazar’s Pit Viper
Discovered in the Himalayan-lying North Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, the Salazar’s Pit Viper (Trimeresurus Salazar) was named after the Harry Potter character Salazar Slytherin, the founder of Slytherin House. His symbol is a snake, so it is a very fitting name and one Harry Potter fans are loving (even the Gryffindors).
The pit viper is classed as nocturnal and is a bright green with the males of the species being distinguished by an orange stripe on their heads.
This snake was discovered underground, much like a rare gem, in Ha Giang province of Vietnam. We reference a rare gem because the snake’s colouring is compared to that of an Australian opal with its scales shimmering between blue and green.
It was named after the Smithsonian’s retired curator of reptiles and amphibians George Zug with Achalinus referring to odd-scaled snakes which are known for their keeled or ridged scales.
Four populations of Popa langur have been found in Myanmar. They have discovered only 260 individuals which means they are already classed as endangered. The positive news is according to the Good News Network; it is very uncommon to discover new primate species.
Conservationists feel hopeful that the plight of the Popa Iangur will be quickly picked up as they have very charismatic faces. They have fluffy grey tufts of fur on their heads and pouted lips. They have been named after Mount Popa where a population of about 100 have been found living.
Jonah’s Mouse Lemur
Discovered in Madagascar, the Jonah’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus jonahi) is about the size of a human fist. It was discovered in the dry lowland forests of Northeast Madagascar’s Mananara Nord National Park. This is fantastic news!
This incredible plant is being nicknamed Desert Broccoli. Discovered in Namibia’s arid climate, this evergreen shrub is found where almost nothing else grows, in the Namibian Salt Pans. The shrub is similar to broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale, but it falls into its own family within the Brassicales family.
The shrub named “Tiganophyton karasense” was derived from the Greek word τηγάνι (tigani), which means frying pan.
Six mushrooms have been found down by the river at the end of the Heathrow Airport Runway. They are not named after Heathrow though, but rather after the discover’s wife, Heather. A further 3 mushrooms of the same family (Cortinarius) were also found in neighbouring Scotland.
This family of mushrooms are webcap toadstools, meaning the underside of their caps looks like fish gills.
PS: If you dislike spiders, look away now!
The Joaquin Phoenix Spider
Loureedia phoenixi was discovered in Iran and is part of the Velvet Spider genus. Usually, these spiders are found in Mediterranean climates, so this is the first one found beyond that region.
It is named after Joaquin Phoenix’s incredible portrayal of the Joker. Can you see the resemblance? It has a red marking on its thorax, and white banded black legs. It is only 8mm in length and is actually a do-gooder! These spiders build communal nests and carry the young of their neighbours. Cute!
A 10cm scorpion has been found in Sri Lanka. It is being called the Yala Giant Scorpion after being found in the Yala National Park. Thankfully, the bigger the scorpion, the safer the sting! This scorpion, while larger than what makes us comfortable, isn’t venomous.
The Yala Giant Scorpion is the 6th new scorpion discovery to be made in Sri Lanka since scientists started studies in the area in 2015.
The females in the species are much larger than their male counterparts, but the males are more colourful.
The Giant Siphonophore is a 47-meter colonial organism which is similar to a jellyfish and a worm. It is the longest animal ever discovered and was found in the deep-sea canyons near Ningaloo.
When found, it was coiled like a rope. It is made up of smaller, specialized polyps and medusoids, collectively known as zooids. These act like humans inside a submarine, each zooid managing a different physiological function such as propulsion or gastric function.
Check out this beautiful *giant* siphonophore Apolemia recorded on #NingalooCanyons expedition. It seems likely that this specimen is the largest ever recorded, and in strange UFO-like feeding posture. Thanks @Caseywdunn for info @wamuseum @GeoscienceAus @CurtinUni @Scripps_Ocean pic.twitter.com/QirkIWDu6S
— Schmidt Ocean (@SchmidtOcean) April 6, 2020